Decided on December 26,1979



D.H.SHUKLA, M.K.SHAH - (1.) There is a Public Trust by name The Surat Parsi Panchayat Funds and Properties No. 15/1938 which is registered as a Public Trust at No. C 168 (Surat) under the Bombay Public Trusts Act 1950 on 6-3-1954. The said Trust is shown to be in Surat District Baroda Region. The certified copy of its registration is at Exh. 54. The said Trust owns several immovable properties and the Schedule to Exh. 54 shows that Survey Nos. 57 58 63 68 69 70 and 71 along with others are owned by the said Trust. These Survey Nos. pertain to the agricultural grass lands situate in the sim of village Umerwada Taluka Chaurasi. The trustees of the said trust made plots of different size in the same agricultural lands and leased out different plots to different persons after obtaining the permission of the Charity Commissioner. In all the cases of the leases so made their respective duration was for a period of 30 years all of them were registered and the plots were leased out for industrial purposes. It was alleged by the trustees that the lessees of several plots were in arrears of rent for more than six months and thus those lessees had committed a breach of a condition of the lease which breach consequently resulted into the termination of their respective leases by the trustees who then filed suits against the lessees for the recovery of the possession of the leased lands along with the arrears of rents and mesne profits. Originally six suits were filed by the trustees against different defendants in the Court of the Civil Judge (S. D ) at Surat. Those suits were bearing Nos. 18/70 27 124 136 161 and 25/70 They were treated as companion suits in which the plaintiffs were the same and the questions of law and fact were also common to them. At the time of the hearing of the suits they were consolidated and the evidence was recorded in Suit No. 18/70. All the six suits were decreed by the judgment and order of the Civil Judge (S. D.) Surat and the defendants were directed to hand over to the plaintiffs the possession of the land leased to the respective defendants and they were further directed to pay the rent and the mesne profits as stated therein. ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
(2.) The main contention which was raised before the Trial Court and which was also pressed before us related to the question of the jurisdiction of the Civil Court to try the suits. The defendants had challenged the jurisdiction of the Civil Court on the first ground that it was the Civil Court as constituted under the Bombay Rent Hotel & Lodging House Rates Control Act 1947 (referred to hereinafter as the Bombay Rent Act) which had the jurisdiction to try the suit and not the ordinary Civil Courts. In the alternative it was contended that as the suit lands were agricultural lands it would be the Court constituted under the Bombay Land Revenue Code which could entertain and try those suits. In the alternative it was further contended that under the Provisions of the Bombay Tenancy & Agricultural Lands Act 1948 (hereinafter referred to as the Tenancy Act) the proper forum will be the competent authority constituted under the Tenancy Act.
(3.) So far as the question of jurisdiction under the Bombay Rent Act is concerned the learned trial Justice has rightly relied upon a ruling in the case of Mst. Subhadra v. Narsaji Chenayi Marwadi reported in A. I. R. 1966 Supreme Court page 806 and another ruling in the case of Vasudev Dhanjibhai Modi v. Rajabhai Abdul Rehman & Ors. reported in 12 G. L. R. page 55 to reach a conclusion that the suit lands were not covered by the provisions of the Bombay Rent Act. It is an undisputed position that the suit lands were agricultural lands and were assessed as such on the date of letting. This factual position is not gainsaid by the defendants and hence the ratio of the ruling squarely applies. The Supreme Court upheld the view of the Courts below holding that the concerned plot being one used for agricultural purpose at the time of letting was not premises as contemplated in sec. 5(8) of the Bombay Rent Act. It was further held that the material date for ascertaining whether the Plot is premises for purposes of sec. 6 is the date of letting and not the date on which the application for fixation of standard rent is made by the tenant or the landlord. The facts of the present appeals before us as stated above are analogous in nature. Furthermore there is one added feature in the facts of the present cases namely that the Non Agricultural Permission was not obtained till the suits were filed whereas in the reported case such a permission was obtained before the application for fixation of standard rent was submitted.;

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